Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
There are more questions than answers about the Liberals’ Local Community Facilities Fund following this morning’s Public Accounts Committee hearing.
Treasurer, Michael Ferguson, can pretend ‘there’s nothing to see here’ with the Liberals’ secretive election slush fund, but his answers to PAC only added to the dark cloud hanging over this government’s integrity.
Of particular note in this hearing was the Treasury Secretary revealing the Local Community Facilities Fund originally contained at least $20 million of projects. This is in direct contradiction to what the Premier and other Ministers have said about the Fund, and demonstrates the list of projects tabled in Parliament was incomplete.
To this day, we still don’t know how many grant promises the Liberals made through the LCFF, or their dollar value. So much for transparency.
More questions still surround whether all LCFF projects were publicly announced during the election campaign, and how many – if any – were submitted to Treasury for costing.
On 29 April 2021, Peter Gutwein said, “We have submitted each and every one of our policies to Treasury to be fully costed.”* Answers from Treasury Secretary, Tony Ferrall, suggest this was untrue.
Asked what possible justification the government had for using this secretive process to fund their election promises, the only explanation Michael Ferguson could offer was ‘enthusiasm from government’. Well, we certainly don’t dispute this government’s enthusiasm for tapping in to public monies using dodgy process and secrecy.
Despite having information about the use of the Treasurer’s Reserve in previous years readily on hand, Michael Ferguson was somehow unable to tell the Committee how many times this had been done for the purpose of funding election commitments. We think if the answer suited his political agenda, he might have been more forthcoming.
The Liberals’ highly paid spin doctors might be working overtime to try to get them out of this mess, but this issue isn’t going away. The Tasmanian people deserve answers and a commitment this kind of shady electoral bribery scheme will not happen again.